* As someone who was raised in El Monte and was constantly repulsed by the cloud swirling in every glass of tap water, I must thank Frank Clifford for his article on the EPA's Superfund "efforts" in the San Gabriel Valley (March 19).
The true tragedy is that the population of the area continues to surge as the EPA and local businesses fight over the cleanup costs. Although some small businesses may be unfairly burdened, surely most of those cited should accept a larger share of the blame than the average citizen.
* The difficulty of placing the blame for the contaminated San Gabriel Valley aquifer, assigning the costs of cleanup, and the burden this places on small businesses points up the need for a better way of dealing with this costly public health problem. One approach that reflects the realities of toxic chemical usage might be to fund Superfund and ongoing toxic waste disposal programs with a tax placed on the very chemicals that are the source of the problem. This would do two very positive things: It would give chemical manufacturers and their customers a strong incentive to develop less toxic alternatives, and it could make it less costly for small business to comply with proper disposal practices. While this might add to the cost of products and services that are dependent on these chemicals, in the long run it is far cheaper to society if we reduce the need for toxics at the source or pay for proper disposal rather than to try to clean them up once they are in the soil or aquifer.